In a letter sent on Monday to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Chief Operating Officer Javier Olivan, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) expressed her concerns about Meta’s (formerly Facebook) ongoing efforts to expand into the cryptocurrency industry. Waters highlighted that Meta currently has five active trademark applications with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), which she finds worrisome.
The congresswoman’s letter stated, “I write to express my concerns regarding Meta Platforms, Inc.’s (f/k/a Facebook, Inc.) filing status of five trademark applications related to various digital assets services and blockchain technology with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). With its initial filings on March 18, 2022, Meta’s application submissions as of January 22 appear to represent a continued intention to expand the company’s involvement in the digital assets ecosystem.”
The letter specifically pointed out five patents by Meta that encompass various applications related to the digital assets sector, including social media networking, dating services, trading, and validating cryptocurrencies, among others. Waters highlighted that despite these applications still being active, Meta had previously informed the Financial Services Committee on October 12 that the company had no ongoing digital assets-related projects.
This is not the first time Rep. Maxine Waters has expressed concerns about Big Tech companies venturing into the digital assets sector. Last year, she questioned PayPal about its own stablecoin, emphasizing the lack of a federal framework for regulating and overseeing such assets.
It is worth noting that Meta had previously attempted to launch its own digital currency project in 2019, which was later named Diem. However, due to backlash from Washington and regulators worldwide over Meta’s access to billions of users’ personal data, the project was eventually shut down and sold to now-defunct Silvergate Bank in 2022. Former employees of the Diem project have since gone on to develop their own digital assets, including Aptos and Sui.
As Meta continues to face scrutiny over its expansion into the cryptocurrency industry, it remains to be seen how the company will address the concerns raised by Rep. Maxine Waters and navigate the evolving regulatory landscape surrounding digital assets.